It was two days after New Year’s, but I sat down and made The List anyway just because Why Not. I’ve always found the idea of New Year’s resolutions funny because they’re incredibly controversial for no reason — some people swear by them, others despise them, and some just don’t make any at all. By the end of this article, you can probably guess which camp I fall under.
Unlike the last time when all you could hear was everyone around you saying “2022 is gonna be MY year,” it seems that 2023 is the year we all collectively gave up. I glanced back at the list I made last year — some items in no particular order were to go ice skating and be kind of decent at it, learn how to navigate the gym, and give my sleep schedule a long-needed overhaul. Well, out of those, I did manage to learn how to roller skate without any significant mishaps (maybe I’ll hit the ice rink this year) as well as pick up a couple of lifting techniques. I also did reinvent my sleep schedule — just in the wrong direction.
So this year, I picked up my pencil and sought to draft a better list — a list chock-full of doable goals, not warped by my overestimating imagination, an actionable list that actually resembled New Year’s Resolutions and not New Year’s Dreams. But the gray space between the achievable and fantasy is impossibly wide and difficult to conceptualize. What I wrote was specific enough to sound doable but also vague enough to be procrastinated. The more bullet points I added, the more I realized I was regurgitating the random lists I usually make throughout the year, filled with things I ought to do like lower my screen time and eat more mindfully (and actually do complete in some capacity, but not in a concrete, measurable way that is satisfying). The more I wrote, the more tired I grew. I was exhausted from penning the same things over and over again, writing the things I should prioritize but just attend to halfheartedly between balancing all the things life throws at a typical college student and trying to genuinely grow as a person.
We hype New Year’s resolutions up, but I frankly don’t see what all the fuss is about. Most people make goals in some form all the time, and the ones declared on Jan. 1 are no different, minus the initial motivation boost that inevitably diminishes come Valentine’s Day. Forget New Year’s — what does it actually take to stick to a goal? Sheer will and arbitrary holidays are not going to cut it; better habits and discipline are what work in the long run. On New Year’s, it’s too tempting to set innocuous goals that later turn out to be monstrous commitments, both physically and moreover mentally. If you want to make big fixes, it may be best to save them for another day when you’ve set aside the time and space to follow through instead of one that glorifies lists of ambitious one-liners.
So this year, instead of New Year’s resolutions, I’ve decided to make my New Year’s list indulgently impossible — my way of embracing the New Year’s spirit in a somewhat derisive but wholly serious way. On it I have obnoxiously unfeasible things that I know I’ll almost never accomplish and things you couldn’t pay me any amount to do, but also things I’ve always dreamed of and written off as impossible. A ridiculous bucket list, if you will. W. B. Yeats said to “tread softly because you tread on my dreams” — this list was meant to stomp. It’s not practical. It was not meant to be checked off in its entirety. It was not designed to bring me closer to my ideal self that I dream about realizing every new year. Going in, I know I’m not going to do half the things on that list. But I still love it.
I’ve also made my list more experience-centered instead of trying to alter things about myself I know won’t change overnight. Because after all, experiences change who you are, just without the stifling intention. Instead of the frustration and disappointment that comes with falling short of high standards, this year I’m choosing to embody the mentality that “anything’s better than nothing.”
I still plan to give ice skating a try, though.